Everyday conversations: Thanksgiving in the U.S. [audio]

Students celebrate their first Thanksgiving meal together. (Thinkstock)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, six students talk about their first U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Jana: It was so nice of Professor Palmer to invite us all over for Thanksgiving.

Lee: And it’s the first Thanksgiving in the U.S. for all of us.

Peter: I’m really happy that part of Dr. Palmer’s Thanksgiving tradition is to volunteer with his family at a local community center.

Lucía: I’m glad he invited us to that too, and not just to his family’s Thanksgiving feast.

Ajay: It’ll be good to get off campus regardless. I’m thankful for many things, including that!

Akinyi: I’m thankful to share this day with all of you. I couldn’t ask for better people to meet and become friends with this year.

Lee: Agreed! Hey, what do you think the food will be at the Palmers’?

Lucía: Dr. Palmer told me he was planning to have a turkey with all the trimmings and three kinds of pie.

Jana: Well, we’d better get a move on if we’re going to get there on time.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

In the U.S., Thanksgiving Day is celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a major U.S. holiday. Families try to spend the holiday together and often eat a meal that includes turkey.

A tradition is a belief, custom or way of doing something that has been used by a particular group of people for a long time.

To volunteer means to offer to do something without being paid to do it or without being asked to do it.

A community center is a building where people from the same area can take classes, participate in activities, etc.

A feast is a special (and often large) meal, often to celebrate something.

Off campus means anywhere that is not within the college campus.

The phrase couldn’t ask for (something) means that this is the best you can imagine of the thing mentioned. I couldn’t ask for a better friend means that you are the best friend I can imagine having.

Turkey with all the trimmings means a turkey plus all of the other foods one traditionally eats at a Thanksgiving meal.

Get a move on means to hurry up.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.